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    WASHINGTON—As high water spreads from Houston through Texas and Louisiana, authorities are bracing for an inevitable wave of fraud and other criminal activity set into motion by Harvey’s punishing rains.

    In a warning to those who would seek to defraud the government and people wanting to help or seeking assistance, a dozen federal and state agencies were banding together to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers.

    Federal and state officials are warning residents, volunteers and officials in flood zones in Texas and Louisiana they could be targeted by storm-related scams, contract corruption, document fraud, identity theft and other crimes. They emphasize that the easy availability of personal information and documents on the internet has widened criminal activities and potential victims to anywhere in the U.S.

    “Protect yourself and your wallet from unscrupulous operators,” warned a new flyer by the Texas attorney general, whose office had received nearly 700 complaints by late Wednesday. Most alleged price gouging but a few reported fraud, said Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

    A disaster-related task force headed by Justice Department officials and other authorities has operated since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It has arrested and prosecuted defendants for disaster-related crimes, including more than 1,460 in connection with crimes associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Those prosecutions, between 2005 and 2011, targeted defendants in 49 federal districts across the country — a clear indication that criminal activities spawned by Harvey could originate anywhere.

    “We recognize that much of the fraud may occur in areas far removed from the disaster,” said Corey Amundson, the acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana. Amundson is also the executive director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, the Baton Rouge-based federal task force.

    In a sign of the magnitude of fraud anticipated in Harvey’s wake, federal and state law enforcement officials formed a working group to investigate and prosecute illegal activity stemming from the hurricane. Houston-based Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said storm victims had already suffered devastation and “the last thing that victims of the damage need is to be victimized again.” The relationship, if any, between the new working group and the existing task force wasn’t clear.

    After Katrina, many of the task force’s early criminal prosecutions targeted those accused of fraudulently obtaining emergency assistance funds intended to help storm and flood victims. The unit’s scrutiny broadened to people and companies that filed fraudulent home repair and disaster loan applications and also to contract and kickback schemes involving corrupt public officials.

    Read more:

    Rescuers start block-by-block search of flooded Houston

    Explosion rocks flood-crippled plant near Houston, emergency crews warn of more danger

    Harvey is moving on. These 23 photos show what the storm left behind

    Among officials investigated by the task force were Benjamin Edwards Sr., a former New Orleans city sewerage director who pleaded guilty in 2010 to wire fraud and tax evasion for soliciting more than $930,700 in payoffs from hurricane cleanup contractors — and Gregory Brent Warr, the former mayor of Gulfport, Mississippi, who admitted guilt in 2009 for improperly receiving federal disaster funds.

    The U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies for loose scrutiny of disaster relief and recovery spending after Katrina. Walt Green, a Baton Rouge lawyer and former U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge, said FEMA and other federal agencies have tightened oversight during recent disasters, but are still overrun after each new disaster with fraudulent addresses, personal information and other spurious documentation.

    “Identify fraud is the newest angle,” said Green. “You can find long lists of social security numbers of the dark web and people are purchasing them to use after disasters.”

    Green, who led the federal disaster task force between 2013 and last March, said some criminal activity likely spiked even before Harvey’s landfall last week. Green said hurricane-related internet addresses — often with wording stressing storm charity and relief — are quickly purchased in the hours before a hurricane’s landfall. Some web addresses later surface in charity scams that bilk unsuspecting donors or lure viewers to virus-infected sites.

    “Without a doubt, charity fraud is going on right now,” Green said.

    On Wednesday, the government-funded Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center reported more than 500 domain names associated with Harvey had been registered over the preceding week. The majority of those names, the centre reported, used words associated with philanthropy and aid, including “help,” “relief,” “donate” and “victims.”

    The centre warned of “the potential for misinformation” and that “malicious actors are also using social media to post false information or links to malicious websites.”

    Four domain names referencing Harvey and the words “relief,” “fund” and “recovery” were listed for auction on earlier this week, starting at $5,000 each. James Streigel, a northern California man who acknowledged offering them for sale, said he had no malicious intent and intended to sell them to the highest bidder. Streigel said his listings also carried notices saying he would donate 20 per cent of his earnings to the American Red Cross.

    He acknowledged to The Associated Press that he had no way of preventing prospective buyers from using the domain names for criminal activity. “We can’t be sure of anything these days,” Streigel said.

    Hours later, an eBay spokesman, Ryan Moore, said the listings had been removed from eBay’s site. “We’ve issued a warning to this seller that these listings violate eBay policy,” Moore said.

    The site’s “offensive material policy” prohibits listings that “attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering, or that are insensitive to victims of such events.”

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    Hurricane Harvey is now the second most destructive storm in U.S. history, behind only Hurricane Katrina. The devastation is massive: 46 dead and an estimated $80 billion in U.S. dollars ($99 billion Canadian) in damages — so far.

    Harvey could end up being the most expensive of all. It depends on what happens in the coming days and weeks. The longer homes stay underwater and businesses remain closed, especially the major oil refineries that supply a substantial amount of America’s gas, the bigger the hit to Texas and the entire U.S. economy.

    Gas prices are at the highest level in two years after Harvey decimated 20 per cent of U.S. refining capacity. Americans across the country are seeing a hit to their wallets from the added costs, and the country might not be able to export oil for a while.

    “This was a worst case situation,” says Chuck Watson, head of Enki Research, a company that forecasts natural disasters. His latest estimate is an $80-billion price tag for Harvey, double his initial prediction. The vast majority of that bill will be paid by taxpayers, since private insurance rarely covers flooding.

    It’s too early to know the final toll. Current estimates differ wildly, ranging from $50 billion to $190 billion. Watson says Harvey is “breaking all the models” because of the extensive flooding, which makes it hard to get a decisive read on the devastation. Katrina caused more than 1,800 deaths and $125 billion in damages when it hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. In today’s dollars, that equates to $160 billion, according to government calculations.

    “This is clearly one of the bigger ones, if not the biggest in terms of damages,” says Michael Gapen, head of U.S. economic research at Barclays. “It could have a significant impact on growth, at least in the third quarter.”

    If it ends up being similar to Katrina in terms of the cost and duration of the recovery, there will be a rapid hit to jobs and growth. Hundreds of thousands of people are likely to be out of work for days, if not weeks, and economic growth could be 1 per cent lower in the third quarter, the period from July through September. That’s a substantial decline considering the United States only grew 3 per cent in the spring. But the pain could be short-lived if the government steps in with a lot of aid.

    Read more:

    Price of Toronto gasoline to hit $1.329 by Saturday due to Harvey

    Flooding, likely tornado damage as Harvey hits Deep South

    Authorities warn of hurricane-related fraud in wake of Harvey flooding

    “The lesson from both Katrina and Sandy is that the quicker government aid and insurance money gets to a ravaged area, the smaller the economic blow,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

    U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to ask Congress for a speedy $6 billion as early as Friday, but that’s a small fraction of the total bill. Some federal aid is already flowing to Texas from existing Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration funds. FEMA given out more than $35 million so far, for example.

    Houston is America’s fourth-largest city and the hub of the country’s energy industry. About 100,000 homes are damaged, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said Thursday. He predicted a “long, frustrating recovery.”

    U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence was more upbeat. He stood in Rockport on Thursday and vowed Texas would come back “bigger and better than ever before.”

    Economists surveyed by The Washington Post are also optimistic that the greater Houston area will rebound much faster than New Orleans did.

    “Strong, vibrant economies recover,” says Kurt Karl, chief economist at insurance company Swiss Re. Unlike New Orleans, Houston had been growing rapidly before the storm hit. Oil is the heart of the region’s economy, but Houston has diversified in recent years with more jobs in health care, tourism and tech.

    A key sign to watch is whether people flee Houston. New Orleans suffered a massive population exodus, causing the city to lose half of its people in the year following the storm. That means fewer workers, lower tax receipts and less spending in stores and restaurants.

    “In Houston, people have not left. They are in shelters, but they aren’t gone. Sooner or later, they will rebuild,” predicts Rajeev Dhawan, director of Georgia State University’s Economic Forecasting Center.

    Once the reconstruction efforts get underway, it usually causes an economic boom that balances out — or even overcompensates — the losses. This will be a major opportunity for anyone involved in the construction industry. Contractors were already complaining they couldn’t find enough skilled workers. The dire need for builders may lure more workers to Houston, especially if wages spike since there’s so much demand that people are willing to pay more. Some argue immigrant labour from Mexico could also help speed up the rebuilding process.

    It will also be a boon for stores and car manufacturers as people replace what they lost. The stocks of Ford and General Motors jumped this week as it became clear that tens of thousands of cars are damaged from the storm. Texans will likely be buying new vehicles soon.

    “It feels wrong to think about it like this, but historically, these storms just cause temporary disturbances to the economy,” says Gapen. He expected a rebound by the fourth quarter.

    Taxpayers will end up funding most of the rebuilding because traditional insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Business executives and homeowners have to go out and buy special flood insurance policies. More than 80 per cent of homeowners in the areas hardest hit in southeast Texas didn’t do that. Flood insurance is only required for property owners in places that FEMA designates as extremely high risk. About two-thirds of the homes hit by Harvey weren’t in those zones, Watson says.

    The National Flood Insurance Program, a government-run program, is the only place that offers U.S. homeowners flood insurance. NFIP will end up covering $9 billion, according to CoreLogic, a company that tracks losses. Private insurers only cover flooding damage to businesses, and even that is limited. Private insurers will pay around $2 billion, predicts AIR Worldwide, another catastrophe-modeling firm.

    To put it another way, insurance of any sort will cover less than 15 per cent of Harvey’s $80 billion tab. Charity and people’s savings will help a little, but the bulk of the humanitarian and rebuilding costs will come from government.

    All the signs indicate Texas is likely to recover and the U.S. economy probably won’t see much lingering impact, but economists warn some families won’t be as lucky.

    “There are individuals, households and businesses within these communities who can never recover,” says Matthew Fienup, director of the Center for Economic Research at California Lutheran University. “These should be the primary targets of the long-term policy response to this disaster.”

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    Police have identified the man who was shot and killed inside a North York mall Thursday evening.

    Jovane Clarke, 22, of Toronto, was found inside Sheridan Mall after police responded to reports of a shooting at 6:30 p.m., said Det. Sgt. Mike Carbone.

    Paramedics who responded to the call said the victim was suffering from gunshot wounds to the head.

    What investigators know at this point is that Clarke drove to the mall near Jane St. and Wilson Ave. and parked in the southern parking lot. Four people targeted him as he got out of his vehicle and at least two of them had guns, Carbone said.

    One of the suspects chased Clarke into the mall and continued to shoot at him. There were multiple gunshots fired both inside and outside the mall, Carbone said. There were a number of people in the mall when the shooting took place, police said.

    Police are looking for four suspects. All are described as black men in their mid-20s, wearing dark clothing.

    An autopsy was scheduled for later Friday.

    Witnesses with information on this shooting are asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

    Clarke is the 35th homicide victim this year in Toronto. At the end of August last year, there were 55 homicides.

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    MEADOW LAKE, SASK.—A lawyer acting for the prosecution in the case of a deadly northern Saskatchewan shooting has been named a provincial court judge.

    Lloyd Stang’s call to the bench further delayed a sentencing hearing that was to resume Friday for a teenager who shot and killed four people in La Loche and injured seven others.

    The hearing was to continue Aug. 25, but was put over because the Crown wanted to ask more questions of two doctors about their finding that the teen has fetal alcohol syndrome.

    In making the announcement, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan said Stang’s knowledge, experience and abilities will enhance the judiciary in the province.

    Stang is to serve in Melfort provincial court.

    A new date for the teen’s sentencing hearing is to be set Sept. 11.

    Read more:

    Sentencing hearing delayed for La Loche school shooter

    La Loche shooter apologizes at sentencing hearing: ‘I’m sorry I shot you’

    La Loche shooter has symptoms of PTSD, suicidal thoughts, psychiatrist tells court

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    CAMBRIDGE, ONT.—A man from southern Ontario is resorting to some partial nudity to get his bong and medical marijuana back from local police.

    Wearing nothing but socks, running shoes and a pair of brightly coloured briefs, 31-year-old Jeffrey Shaver has been protesting outside the Kitchener, Ont., courthouse and various police stations in the region while smoking a bong.

    Beside the Cambridge, Ont., man are usually two signs, reading “Return My Bong” and “Return My Marijuana.”

    Shaver, who was protesting at the courthouse earlier this week, claims he is a registered medical marijuana user but was arrested by Waterloo regional police in October for possession of marijuana.

    He says police seized his bong and about two grams of marijuana, and he says he won’t stop protesting until he gets the items back.

    In a statement, police say they are reviewing the circumstances around Shaver’s claim and confirmed they received a complaint from him in connection with his arrest that has been registered with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

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    The City of Toronto has nearly doubled its red light cameras as part of a plan it says is aimed at eliminating traffic death and serious injuries.

    To date, 65 new cameras have been placed at intersections this year and are now operational, with another 10 to come that are still under construction or review.

    The move was “an obvious opportunity” to expand Toronto’s traffic safety program, according to Myles Currie, director of the city’s Traffic Management Centre.

    There were 77 locations with red light cameras prior to this year.

    Currie said there’s been an average drop of 40 per cent in the number of collisions causing a death or serious injury at intersections with cameras. At some locations, there’s been no deaths or serious injuries caused by collisions since the cameras were installed.

    “Whereas, traditionally, we would remove cameras and relocate them to other locations, we recommended to city council to keep the cameras from the previous phase,” he said in an emailed statement. “They continue to maintain their effectiveness at those locations and moreover, anecdotally we are seeing a halo effect of the cameras likewise serving to reduce fatal and serious injury collisions at adjacent intersections as well.”

    The fine for running a red light is $325, which includes a $60 victim surcharge and $5 court cost. The city keeps $260 from each charge while the province collects the rest. Because the cameras can’t verify who was driving the vehicle at the time of the infraction, the fines are sent to the owner of the vehicle and no demerit points are issued.

    The 75 new cameras will cost the city $2.1 million per year for next five years.

    Of the intersections where new cameras have been installed this year, Eglinton Ave. and Danforth Rd. has seen the most charges, according to city data updated June 30.

    More than 1,050 charges have been laid at the intersection for running a red light. Danforth Rd. and Brimley Rd. has seen the next most with about 750.

    Signage is key to making sure the cameras are effective, according to Brian Patterson, president and CEO of the Ontario Safety League. He said that unlike common tactics like speed bumps, increasing the number of red light cameras is one of the few strategies he’s seen with positive results.

    “It is one of the traffic calming and behaviour modification projects that really does work,” said Patterson. “In a number of jurisdictions, the greater frequency leads people to believe that at any given moment, the intersection they’re approaching could be a red light (camera) intersection.”

    About 70 per cent of members of the Canadian Automobile Association’s South Central Ontario chapter support red light cameras, according to Elliott Silverstein, its manager of government relations.

    Silverstein praised the move, but said it’s important for the city to ensure public safety is its main priority.

    “Part of the challenge when it comes to any type of measure like this for some people, they see it not necessarily as an opportunity to change behaviour, they look at is a revenue stream,” Silverstein said.

    “There have been instances in the past where certain tools have been used as a revenue generation, not necessarily in Toronto . . . but if the efforts are being shown to change behaviours, to keep people safe, to keep our road network moving, hopefully we’ll see greater support for these measures and hopefully not need these types of measures.”

    He said support is also dependent on how the money raised through fines is used.

    “If the expansion of the program helps invest in public education efforts, then the funds being generated are going back to help people understand and navigate our roads safely,” Silverstein said.

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    A mother with no idea how she’ll find enough money for an expensive daycare by next week. A teenager unable to complete her homework without support from an after-school program. An elderly woman mourning the loss of the activities that gave her life meaning.

    All came to a community meeting in North York on Thursday night to plead for help after Doorsteps Neighbourhood Services, a beloved local non-profit, closed suddenly earlier this month. Behind the speakers sat a half-circle of empty chairs, labelled with the names of 10 local politicians who didn’t attend.

    “We don’t need them,” said Deloris Williamson Braham, whose nine-year-old son went to Doorsteps. “Right now we’re on our faces and not one of them came.”

    About 100 people were at the meeting Thursday at the Domenico Diluca Community Centre near Jane St. and Sheppard Ave. W.

    Doorsteps was founded in 1992 to serve the Daystrom, Chalkfarm and Falstaff neighbourhoods. The non-profit played a vital role in turning an area with a violent past into one with dynamic social programming, including care for kids of all ages and activities for seniors. Many of the people it assisted were recent immigrants or low-income families.

    Up until 2012, the programs ran smoothly. However, the next five years were marked by issues like money mismanagement and rapid turnover in leadership.

    Despite impassioned arguments from board members, the organization shut down on Aug. 11. The City of Toronto, United Way, Children’s Services and other organizations will take over the programs and services Doorsteps used to run, though details aren’t clear.

    Former Doorsteps employee Suhcita Singh said she’s one of several workers who paid out-of-pocket to help run programs — she’s now out of a job and about $1,100, she said — with no idea when she’ll be repaid. Though the organization has promised to fulfill all of its legal and financial obligations by Nov. 3, Singh said that won’t help her or the parents whose children she helped look after.

    “What’s going to happen to the kids?” she said.

    At times, the atmosphere was angry, with community members shouting “shame” and crying as they described their struggle to find alternative plans. During other moments, it felt like a pep rally with impromptu singing and fiery speeches from community organizers.

    “I miss it, I want it back and I’m not going to shut up until it’s back,” said 75-year-old Hilda Matthews, who used to attend the seniors’ program.

    “It’s not fair for anybody to close these programs.”

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    Torontonians can expect to pay more than $1.30 for a litre of gasoline by Saturday as prices continue to surge in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

    Motorists awoke to a hike of about five cents a litre on Friday, and will likely see the price to rise another nine cents on Saturday, says petroleum analyst Dan McTeague.

    That will put the average price of gas in Toronto at $1.329, a spike in prices more severe than what was seen during Hurricane Katrina, says McTeague, the former Pickering MP who runs the price-tracking website

    “We’re already 20 cents a litre above what we were eight days ago before the storm, so this is by far and away the most serious and most impactful,” McTeague said, comparing Harvey to past storms.

    Hurricanes Katrina and Ike each brought between 12 to 14 cents per litre increase to Toronto, but so far, Harvey is at 20 cents, McTeague explained.

    Saturday’s prices, which could hit a high last seen by Toronto drivers in September 2014, are set to hold at the pumps at least until Thursday, he said.

    The highest price Torontonians have paid for gas was $147.7 on July 4, 2008, McTeague said.

    Major gasoline refineries in the U.S. were shut down by Harvey, which also caused the temporary shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline – what McTeague calls the “aortic artery” of gasoline transportation for the US Atlantic Coast.

    In Canada, prices are also affected by a lack of competition among gasoline wholesalers and taxes, McTeague explained.

    "We have seen prices go up in a nanosecond. That doesn't happen anywhere else in the world,” he said.

    It could be two to three weeks before refineries are up and running again, according to McTeague.

    "Ten days ago, we were $1.10. We're now at $1.329 tomorrow," he said. "That's a pretty big impact."

    In Toronto, some drivers decided to hit the pumps early to save a few dollars before the price hike.

    As he filled up his car at Leslieville Pumps Friday morning, David Miller said he was worried about the impending price hike.

    "Even yesterday…I was going to the gym in the morning and it was $1.05, then by the time I came out in an hour it was at $1.18. So that was a little scary," said Miller, adding he expected to see more people in line at the gas station.

    As much as the hurricane-induced gas hikes might be inconvenient, he said he's more worried about the people in Texas right now.

    "So I think we start with the people first, but it's obviously, it sucks economically," said Miller.

    A long line of cars stretched from the pumps at the Costco in Etobicoke Friday morning.

    Robin Stuart was back for the third time that day trying to get gas – when he first came at 7:30 a.m., he said the lineup was backed up down to the Queensway.

    "It was just too much, I'd be burning too much more gas. It's totally inefficient," he said.

    Rajeev Viswanathan waited about 20 minutes for gas at Costco on Friday – but he's waited longer in the past.

    "I heard the gas prices are going up another dime tomorrow, and Costco's pretty good, it's cheaper," he said, adding his tank is empty and he would have probably waited in line anyway. "It's all Houston-related, I think it's temporary. It'll go back down."

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    Star movie critic Peter Howell, entertainment reporter Bruce DeMara, and freelancers Linda Barnard and Jennie Punter provide capsule reviews of the Toronto International Film Festival movies they've watched. Use our interactive features to sift through their recommendations. Visit this page for more TIFF capsule reviews to come.

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    Ontario tenants will have more protection from eviction starting Friday.

    That’s when new measures aimed at stopping landlords from turfing people from their rental units will take effect.

    Effective Friday, when a landlord ends a tenancy to have family members move in, people evicted must receive compensation.

    “When a tenant is evicted through no fault of their own, they are forced to scramble to find new accommodations and cover the costs of a sudden move,” Housing Minister Peter Milczyn said in a statement.

    Landlords will have to pay one month’s rent to the evicted tenant or offer him or her another comparable rental unit.

    There will also be a new measure in place to ensure that an apartment isn’t vacated, ostensibly for a relative, and, less than one year later, rented out to someone else.

    “If the landlord advertises, re-rents or demolishes/converts the unit within one year, she or he will be considered to have acted in bad faith, unless they can prove otherwise and could face a fine of up to $25,000,” the government says.

    “The new measures will help protect tenants by discouraging landlords from unlawfully evicting them, whether for conversion of the unit into a short-term rental or immediately re-renting it at a higher rate.”

    Milczyn, who is also the minister responsible for Ontario’s poverty-reduction strategy, said the aim is to help “make that transition easier” for tenants forced to move.

    The minister said, in some cases, it could “prevent it from happening at all, by curbing unlawful evictions.”

    Friday’s changes are part of sweeping tenant-protection protections imposed this year.

    Residential rent increases are capped at 1.8 per cent next year unless landlords apply to housing authorities for more.

    But those who renovate their units can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for increases based on the amount of money spent on improvements.

    Rent controls were expanded by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government in April.

    In all, there are about 1.2 million private rental units in Ontario.

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    MIAMI―Out of nowhere, the Caribbean Airline Ticketing Center on the edge of Miami’s Little Haiti neighbourhood started receiving unusual customer requests. About 40 people a week were booking flights from Fort Lauderdale to Plattsburgh, N.Y., a short drive from the Canada-United States border.

    “We didn’t even know where the town was until it all started,” said Regine Maximillien, who operates the travel agency with her husband, Pierre.

    The customers were Haitian. The transactions included desperate stories of the journeys people had taken to get this far and the admission that they were on the move once again ― this time headed for Canada.

    “These poor Haitian people have endured so much misery,” Pierre Maximilien lamented.

    Since the wave of migration began in July, Plattsburgh has been the destination for thousands of predominately Haitian nationals making refugee claims in Canada. They arrive by bus or airplane, then take a taxi up to a ditch in the middle of a sleepy country route that connects Roxham Rd. in the town of Champlain, N.Y. to Chemin Roxham in the village of Hemmingford, Que.

    Once in Canada, the migrants are detained and processed by border agents to begin the process of claiming asylum.

    Some are facing imminent deportation to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere. It’s a place where, as the U.S. government notes, endemic poverty, corruption and low levels of education “have contributed to the government’s longstanding (in)ability to adequately provide for the security, health and safety of its citizenry.”

    Many others are recipients of a special immigration designation in the United States, known as a Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, which has been granted to more than 300,000 people from 10 countries in the grip of conflict or ravaged by disasters.

    Some 58,000 Haitians in the U.S. received this special status after the 2010 earthquake that leveled the capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed more than 200,000 people. In May, it was extended for the fourth time, due to the slow rebuilding effort, a massive housing shortage, a cholera epidemic that killed 10,000 people, and a hurricane that tore through the island nation last year. But, this time, the extension was just for six months and Homeland Security sent letters urging people to use the time to get their papers in order and prepare to go home.

    Instead, many have made their way to Roxham Road and into Canada.

    Some seem to have been lured by a frequently cited seven-month-old tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted in response to a proposed ban on travellers from Muslim countries entering the United States. Others have been guided by widely shared videos on social media giving dubious advice.

    One video was recorded July 23 outside a YMCA shelter in Montreal that serves as an emergency residence for refugee claimants. As of this week, it had been viewed 116,000 times on Facebook and been shared by 5,500 people. The man in the video addresses viewers in Haitian Creole before switching to English to reiterate his message.

    “Come to Canada! They opened the door for the Haitians, for the other nations that don’t have papers. You can come here like the same as me. I came in 2007 and now I am a Canadian,” the man said, pulling a Canadian passport from his back pocket. “I am from Florida. All my family lives there, but now I am in Montreal. We are waiting for you!”

    The perception that Canada has simply opened its borders to those fleeing President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies prompted the Canadian government to dispatch Haitian-born Montreal Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg to Miami last week to explain, among other things, that about half of all Haitian refugee claims were denied in Canada in 2016.

    The tough message may be getting through. From a peak average of 250 people a day crossing into Canada, the daily numbers have slowed to about 100, said Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

    Regine and Pierre Maximilien’s travel agency hasn’t sold a flight to Plattsburgh in the last week.

    The migratory flight to Canada is taking its toll in Florida, which is home to more than 40 per cent of the Haitian diaspora living in the U.S.

    Desperation and panic are widespread.

    Edelyne Jean received the Homeland Security letter urging her to prepare to return to Haiti, but she refuses to accept the possibility the life she has built here could be so suddenly taken away.

    “I prayed. I prayed to change my mind . . . . I believe in God, so I know he will do something,” she said after finishing work as a nurse’s assistant in Hollywood, Florida, and before heading to the library to study for a test to become a registered nurse.

    The 35-year-old left her home in Cap-Haitien on a boat with two dozen others in June 2007. It took two weeks to reach the United States. Once here, she learned English, then enrolled in nursing school.

    “I built a life here. I want to stay here,” she said. “Before Trump, I felt like I an American. Before him, I felt like I was home.”

    Jan Mapou, who runs the Libreri Mapou bookstore in Little Haiti, said the January 2018 deadline, when the TPS designations will either be renewed or expire, has sent a chill through the community. People are selling houses and possessions. Children have been pulled out of school. Those who have not already left are drawing up plans.

    The Haitians with TPS who are still in Miami are the fighters, the ones with long-shot options or those holding out hope that the Trump administration will reverse course and grant them an extension.

    They are people such as Gerdine Verssagne, who was nine months pregnant when she arrived in the United States by boat on March 13, 2009. Thirteen days later, she gave birth to a little girl, an American citizen. She also has a five-year-old son, who also has U.S. citizenship.

    She works as a housekeeper at the opulent Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach and is also a union representative with Unite Here, which represents hospitality workers.

    “I don’t like when people put me down, so I always like to stand up for myself,” she said, speaking through a Haitian Creole interpreter.

    Her children are blissfully unaware of the dilemma that their mother faces, but Verssagne said she is stressed and scared. A friend left for Montreal less than two weeks ago, but she has decided to stay, particularly because her sister, two other children and a niece in Haiti rely on her for financial support. Most recently she sent $1,000 of her $1,400 salary to help pay for tuition and school supplies.

    “I’m going to wait and see what they’re going to do,” she said, referring to the Trump administration which must decide by late November if it will again extend the TPS for Haitians or allow the protections to expire on January 23, 2018.

    “If nothing happens here, I’ve decided I will take my kids and move to Canada.”

    None of this was what the Haitian community in Miami, where almost half of the Haitian expatriates in the United States live, had been expecting.

    One year ago, when Donald Trump visited Little Haiti as the Republican presidential nominee, he spoke words that are quoted verbatim in nearly every discussion about TPS recipients: “Whether you vote for me or not, I really want to be your biggest champion.”

    Some Haitians even voted for Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, angry about how the Clinton Foundation had managed the rebuilding effort in Haiti after the earthquake.

    “The Haitians with TPS feel generally that President Trump, himself, will not keep his promise, because of the way the administration has been targeting immigrants,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, a group holds community meetings every second Thursday to provide information to TPS holders and rally support for an extension.

    “We were shocked when our community organizer called for our organizing meeting last week. A lot of people answered that they were already in Canada,” she said.

    Bastien has been advising those with TPS to stay, wait and fight for an extension, rather than risk being deported from Canada to Haiti, but she understands the fears that motivate them.

    “It must be the hardest decision any parent has to make, but they feel they are doing the best to protect their families,” she said. “It’s all about finding stability and a safe haven. Any human being placed in that position could understand why.”

    Rony Ponthieux, who was dressed in blue scrubs after finishing his shift as a registered nurse at a Miami Beach hospital, said he is also thinking of his two American-born children, aged 16 and 10. Their future is what drives the 48-year-old, who came to the U.S. in 1999, to gather the papers necessary so an Orlando hospital can sponsor him for a U.S. work visa. If that doesn’t work out, Ponthieux said his family will probably try its luck in Canada.

    Alex Saint Surin, owner of the Radio Mega network, which broadcasts in Haitian Creole to listeners in Miami and Haiti, is using his platform to support the campaign to extend the TPS, but he believes Haitians are obligated to work toward the political, economic and social improvement of their native land.

    “I’m not for people going to Canada; I’m for them staying in their country and build their country,” he said at Radio Mega’s Miami studio, a day after returning from Haiti.

    At the moment, he admitted, the burden of offering employment and education for so many people returning from the U.S. is too great for Haiti.

    “The numbers talk for themselves; there are 4.5 million people willing to take a job, who want a job. But officially we have 250,000 who have got a job, and what kind of pay have they got?” Saint Surin asked. “It will be a very heavy burden for the country if all those people come back.”

    Farah Larrieux refuses to consider the possibility that she could be ordered out of the U.S. The first time she faced deportation, it nearly ruined her.

    She arrived in 2005 and married a Haitian-American, but her citizenship claim was rejected and deportation proceedings began in 2007. The stress ended the marriage. She was depressed and said she thought about suicide. In 2009, she was months away from being deported when the earthquake hit and Haitians citizens living in the U.S. were granted a reprieve.

    “The earthquake saved a lot of people. You can say it. The earthquake helped a lot of Haitians,” Larrieux said.

    The reprieve allowed to her to start over and build a career as a television personality and launch a Haitian entertainment management company in Miramar, Florida.

    “It gave me the opportunity to rebuild. Step by step, I was able to get back the work permit, then the drivers license . . . hoping that, at some point, I would get to a residency path. That was the expectation,” she said.

    “Now, I’m facing the same situation that I had to face 10 years ago. I’m stronger, yes, but, out of the blue, you have to look for an option to start over whether it’s Haiti or another place. It’s starting over at 38, when I should be in a better position in my life, financially and professionally.”

    As Ponthieux, the nurse, races from his good home to his good job in his good car, he said he also feels that TPS recipients are being unfairly caught in the broader political campaign against illegal immigrants that swept Trump into the White House and that threatens to disrupt the United States, a country he has come to think of as his own.

    “We are not criminals. We are not bad people . . . . I work nightshift, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., taking care of people, and to get this job,” Ponthieux said. “We’re working very hard. We contribute. We pay taxes. We have a house. We are part of the American dream.”

    0 0

    Three teachers whose jobs were impacted when a private Islamic high school abruptly shut down, are opening up a new “leadership academy” in the hopes of giving dozens of displaced students a viable alternative.

    The move comes just days before the new school year begins.

    Long-time teachers and employees Riyad Khan, Omar Essawi and Ali Haroon, were in the midst of preparing for the new term at the Islamic Foundation School in east Toronto, when they heard last week that the high school would not be re-opening in September.

    “No one imagined it would lead to this,” said Khan, who has taught at IFS for 11 years, and was one of 35 teachers to unionize in May. “We thought at the most it would give us a way to negotiate in fair dealings with each other,” he said, adding he resigned from IFS last week, but never received a formal layoff notice.

    Once the closure was announced, the three teachers quickly sprang into action to open up the Gibraltar Leadership Academy — a project they have been working on for the last year, Khan said.

    About 50 students, many from IFS, have already registered for the school, said Essawi, who was a non-unionized staffer and former student at IFS.

    Last week, the management at IFS stunned the tight-knit community when they said they had no choice but to close the decades-old high school, citing financial issues and low enrolment. The elementary school at the same site will continue to operate.

    The union, United Food and Commercial Workers, has called the move to close the high school a form of “reprisal” against recently unionized employees.

    On Tuesday, the union filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Board alleging the employer “has engaged in a series of unfair labour practices” and asked for the matter to be heard “on an expedited basis.”

    Muneeza Sheikh, a partner at Levitt LLP Employment & Labour Law, and legal counsel for Islamic Foundation, said the school was “disappointed at a number of mischaracterizations” set out by the union in their complaint and will be filing a response to the allegations.

    The last-minute closure set the parents and students — many of whom had attended at IFS since Grade 1 — scrambling to find space at local schools, and sad at the prospect of not graduating with their life-long friends.

    Khan and Essawi say that’s why many parents have been willing to consider their school.

    “We have worked with some of these students for years, and our students trust in us, as do their parents,” said Khan. “We fully intend to help them get into university and prepare them as best as we can,” he said, adding another Islamic school, facing low enrolment, offered to let their academy use its facilities for the next year.

    Plans for the academy began last year, with the initial goal of setting up an Islamic school summer program that would “instill Islamic character in our students, ensuring their development as socially responsible citizens of Canada.”

    Essawi said the academy, originally scheduled to open next summer, was to offer students academic credits, but would also reinforce skills “lacking in traditional Islamic schools” like leadership programs, public speaking and a summer co-op. In preparation, they submitted necessary paperwork to the Ministry of Education earlier this year, he said.

    All private schools in Ontario are required to submit a “notice of intention to operate a private school,” after which ministry staff make an unannounced visit to confirm the school meets requirements set out in the Education Act. The ministry also conducts inspections of schools wishing to offer credits towards the high school diploma. Over 1,200 private schools are registered in Ontario.

    A ministry spokeswoman said they had received the required documentation from the academy, and will follow the normal process in the coming months. Moreover, “because the school began this process in June, it may begin operating in September,” she said.

    “This is not a pop-up shop,” said Khan. “We have been dedicated to this project, and Islamic education for a long time. We want to make sure we run the school in the right way.”

    Khan, said pushing for high standards was also his goal as a teacher at IFS, which is why he voted to join the union in May. He said teachers were eager to “have a voice at the table.”

    “A lot of it came down to relationships between the teaching staff and management and how they were treated,” said Khan, including issues of respect and job security.

    He said the issue of wages had not yet come up in negotiations, and was never considered a priority for staff. A union representative told the Star that, on average, teachers were paid around $40,000 a year.

    Fathima Cader, legal counsel for the UFCW, said “the parties were at the very early stages of bargaining” including agreeing on “basic language” in the contract including the preamble, grievance process, and health and safety issues, when the employer decided it was going to close its high school.

    “By this point, the union had not made any wage proposal,” she said, adding the employer provided no indication to the union that there were financial troubles at the last meeting on Aug. 18, or that it had any intention of shutting down. It announced the closure to parents the next day.

    She said IFS management also spoke to parents about a possible tuition increase.

    In a letter to parents sent late last week, IFS management said the high school closure was not related to the union, but that “the high school is being shut down for financial and administrative reasons,” such as low enrolment.

    “The foundation cannot continue without the financial projections, which is the basis of sustainability of any organization,” the letter said.

    In an effort to be more transparent, and “learn from the past,” the management said it plans to hire a human resources officer, an accountant and health and safety officer, will facilitate the formation of a parents association, and will ensure greater consultation with parents on major decisions.

    But when pressed by the union to initiate a last-ditch effort to keep the high school open, the management suggested it was too late.

    “We spoke to the union and explained the difficulty in running the school at a loss with low enrolment,” said Akbar Warsi, a spokesman for the IFS board of directors, in an email. He added that nearly 100 high school students have transferred from the school in the last week.

    Despite the tensions between the two parties, both the union and management say they plan to continue to negotiate a contract for the remaining 25 full-time employees at the school.

    0 0

    HOUSTON—Larry and Suzette Cade’s blue car had floated six metres or so. Ten massive logs that the couple had never seen before were scattered on one side of their lawn. There was no trace of the mailbox.

    Thursday was the first glimpse the Cades had of their house since Hurricane Harvey battered and drenched the city. All around Houston, people have begun returning home. Some came in trucks, others in boats. Not everyone stayed; some searched for prized possessions or medications before heading back to shelters. Most simply could not bear to wait any longer to find out: How bad is it?

    The Cades have owned their brick house in northwest Houston for a quarter century, yet on Thursday, it felt unfamiliar.

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    As Cade tried to pry open the swollen front door, Cade peeked through the window of the family room. Even through a film of dirt, she could see everything was upended. The water had reached well over a metre and a half in the house.

    They stood at their front door holding hands — and crying.

    “I just feel so sad and empty,” Cade, 63, said, standing in the driveway on Thursday afternoon.

    “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” Cade, 62, softly repeated as she again walked the perimeter of the house. “This is overwhelming. Everything is thrown everywhere.”

    It was uncertain how many of this region’s residents have tried to return home since the storm, but Houston officials said the numbers in shelters were dropping. The George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston’s main shelter, was housing fewer than 8,000 evacuees by late Thursday, down from about 10,000.

    “I do want people to exercise caution if they are leaving the shelters and returning home,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said late Thursday, “or if they sought lodging someplace else and are returning home. They just need to be extra careful when they are returning.”

    The process of going home had its own complications, given all that this city has been through. Local and state authorities issued an array of cautions: Do not eat anything that had come into contact with floodwaters; check for wildlife, including snakes; and visit homes in daylight.

    And they have been passing around advice for disinfecting soaked furniture: one cup of bleach to 18 litres of water.

    “It’s dirty water,” said Dr. David E. Persse, the public health authority for the City of Houston.

    State Senator John Whitmire, who represents part of Houston, said residents were eager to see their homes.

    “Every human emotion ever found in a society is being experienced,” Whitmire said. “They realize how lucky they are to be alive, in many instances. You’ve got to have priorities: Their priority was one of survival and breathing. Now they want to get back to normal as much as possible.”

    Some went home and moved back in. Others made calls to contractors and landlords, planning repairs. Still others carried out wedding photographs or clothes, then headed back to shelters or the homes of relatives for what may be months. In many cases, the homes are not livable.

    “We could only go in and get some clothing and food,” said Marisela Arevalo, 25, who returned to her house in northeast Houston, but only briefly.

    Standing on a flooded highway not far from her home, Arevalo said the water line in the house came up to her knees.

    Tequoya Stewart-Miller, 30, saw her home for the first time since the flood on Thursday, rolling up to the peach-colored two-story house that she shares with her grandmother and other relatives in the Cypress Creek neighbourhood, northwest of downtown.

    The water had inundated the first story. Her strongest memory of the visit, she said, was the smell of the place: “mildew and death.”

    “It was devastating,” she said. “Just devastating.”

    The house where the family gathered for Friday night card games and Sunday soul food dinners was so destroyed she dared not enter.

    “We had the kids around, we didn’t want them to see,” she said. “That’s traumatizing, to see all they used to have.”

    Back at Larry and Suzette Cade’s house, the couple found their backyard looking as though it had been turned upside down.

    The flower pots Cade had collected over 15 years were smashed and scattered across the backyard. Others had vanished. The fence had fallen in a messy heap. The garage door, gone. Fish had found their way into the swimming pool.

    “Where’s our deck?” Cade wondered aloud.

    Cade whirled around and looked at a muddy patch of earth.

    “Gone too,” he said, shoulders sinking.

    Before they left the house on Sunday afternoon to stay at a hotel with five of their 22 grandchildren, Cade placed a photo of his mother on the top of a two-metre shelf. The photo, more than 50 years old, is so treasured that Cade can recall it with precise detail: he is a toddler wearing black shorts, suspenders and white, hard-bottom, high-top shoes; his mother wears a blue floral dress and holds his hand as they stand in Houston’s Fifth Ward.

    “As soon as I walked to the door this morning, I thought about my mom,” he said. “That photo,” he said, his voice thinned by tears. “I thought the shelf was high enough.” The jumble of furniture that the Cades could see through their windows left little hope.

    They said they had weathered storms before in this neighbourhood northwest of downtown, Bammel Forest, but nothing like Harvey.

    “I have seen the really bad stuff on television,” said Cade, whose family owns a transportation business. “But actually experience it? No. Never.”

    Now, the Cades have to face what’s inside. The door is still swollen shut.

    0 0

    Toronto is a homely city, whether by accident or design. Historic buildings are demolished. Cheap glass accretes, storey by storey, without detail, grace or interest. The cycle continues as ever, the infelicities of the 1960s replaced by the godawfuls of the 2010s, plus murals.

    The Twitter pile-on over Margaret Atwood defending her neighbours as they object to an oversized glass condo creature has missed that crucial point. The huge thing goes almost right up to the lot line like a blob on the move.

    This is what puzzles me about Toronto’s smug urban campaigners. Esthetics go unmentioned.

    The eight-storey condo building planned for 321 Davenport Rd. looks like Ikea’s Godmorgon— they’re acrylic make-up drawer organizers — if you couldn’t figure out the assembly instructions. It will easily be as plug-ugly as the box it replaces, but much bigger.

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    Improving city life isn’t simple. It’s complex, it’s negotiated. Yes, Davenport is an arterial road and mid-rise buildings will improve it, as they do in the deteriorating Beaches and as high-rise condos will on the ratty east Danforth. More people will come to the city instead of creating destructive suburban sprawl.

    That said, the Davenport condo is creepily close to its neighbours — mainly fairly understated brick homes — just behind it on Admiral Rd. and Bernard Ave. It will kill all privacy and will damage or kill trees.

    Atwood isn’t directly affected but she’s fed up, and as always, she dares to speak up. Admiral is not a glossy street. It has multiple-dwellings, some rooming houses, and a Salvation Army retreat for addiction treatment for women, Atwood told me, adding, “As for this particular condo in its present design being a fosterer of Affordable Housing or in The Public Interest, give me a break!”

    In Toronto city planning, trees are normally treated like the fingers of god himself. Even if your tree is unsightly, good luck trying to cut it down and replant.

    But in this case, to hell with trees. They’re owned by people whose responses in June on the city’s zoning amendment form have been ridiculed. Why? Because their owners have money, whether inherited or earned.

    The rule in Toronto is that everyone who doesn’t own a detached house hates everyone who does.

    Toronto consists of urban tribes: Lycra cyclists; cat people; dog people; foodies; vegans; sports parents; obsessive runners; manspreaders; Proud Boys; angry millennials; cranky retirees; cheese bores; urban planning enthusiasts, etc. The Guardian tracked London ones for years; they haven’t run out yet.

    Urban tribes are cultish. We must face the enemy: everyone else. Bike lanes good, children bad. But sometimes everyone is a little bit right, which is confusing. No one has a measured view.

    Atwood and her neighbours — a Weston here, an Eaton there — have made the urban planning cyclist geeks as choked with anger as any road-raging driver.

    Architectural beauty is worth introducing to Toronto. Glass is cheap. But the glazed glass used by Alterra — a company that mainly builds towers in Toronto and various buildings in southern Ontario — is actually better than the green glass it has used elsewhere. The condos, which will individually cost millions, are not bad if this is the sort of not-bad thing you like.

    But the neighbours don’t want their back gardens looking like a prison exercise yard. And why does Alterra pack the building with balconies and terraces? No one uses balconies, not by the lake or in airless Gardiner condos or on University Ave.

    Right now, Davenport’s west side looks like a row of bad teeth. It has to be built up for the sake of the city’s health and attractiveness. A six-storey Alterra condo would work better, and the build should not crowd the lot.

    But here’s the nail that the Gen Y urban planners, cycling madly and knocking pedestrians down, always catch their socks on: class resentment.

    After enduring tribal Twitter attacks of dubious taste — for her age, for being successful — Atwood revealed that she had already been planning to move into a condo, or downsize. As the New Yorker has reported, her husband, Graeme Gibson, has early dementia. Atwood and Gibson have lived on Admiral for more than 30 years. They are rooted. It’s too late to move.

    The tribalists were cruel. One editorial mocked Atwood’s husband and advised her that if she didn’t like it here, she could always “sell her valuable Annex home and move to the country.” Ah, go back to the woods from whence ye came.

    Imagine saying this to Canada’s most famous writer, a possible Nobel winner, a feminist heroine, a sustainer of the city. Imagine mocking Atwood for her age. Her novels are about Toronto. Few other good novelists bother with it.

    But that’s what Toronto does to its tall poppies. You think you’re so fancy? Get out.

    The fact that Atwood didn’t inherit Weston or Eaton wealth, that she earned every dollar, wins her no points in this city. “Hmm, maybe it’s time for me to move out of Toronto,” Atwood tweeted. “I didn’t like it much when I moved in. #CatsEye”

    Her novel Cat’s Eye was about bullying, Atwood is being bullied by Toronto’s hypersensitive urban tribes, for being famous.

    Alterra claims they’re the greatest, just the best guys. “Success comes from understanding that the complex relationship between people and place should be the guiding force behind every decision,” their website states.

    I suggest Alterra have a friendly chat with the neighbours. They are people. They have a relationship with their place, and with yours. Guide your force.

    0 0

    WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans will soon run out of time to rely on the barest of their majority to dismantle the Obama health law.

    The Senate parliamentarian has determined that rules governing the effort will expire when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30, according to independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. The rules allow Republicans to dismantle the Obama health care law with just 51 votes, avoiding a filibuster.

    “Today’s determination by the Senate parliamentarian is a major victory for the American people and everyone who fought against President Trump’s attempt to take away health care from up to 32 million people,” Sanders said in a statement. Sanders heads up Democrats on the budget panel and took the lead in the arcane arguments before the parliamentarian, who acts as the Senate’s non-partisan referee.

    Republicans control the Senate 52-48 and were using the special filibuster-proof process in the face of unified Democratic opposition. Now, if Republicans can’t revive the repeal measure in the next four weeks, they will be forced to work with Democrats to change it.

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    Senate Republicans pulled the plug on their Obamacare repeal effort in July, after falling short in a key vote. It has languished since, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for senators to keep trying.

    The ruling by Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough is likely the final nail in the coffin, since it means Republicans would have to revive the effort and wrap it up in just a few weeks. Congress returns to Washington next week to face a packed agenda including Hurricane aid, a temporary government-wide funding bill, and raising the government’s borrowing cap to prevent a default on U.S. payments and obligations.

    The bitter battle, and struggle among Republicans, over health care consumed the early months of Trump’s presidency. Now, the administration and its allies in Congress are eager to turn the focus to overhauling the tax code.

    0 0

    Some people love the Canadian International Air Show, and others, like myself, see it as a loud annoying tourist trap — that is, until today.

    Gliding above the city, circling the CN Tower, I joined the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team in the cockpit of a Second World War plane that took off from Buttonville Airport ahead of the weekend Air Show at The Ex.

    “You have to be individually trained to fly this plane,” my pilot, Kent Beckham says. “Many modern day pilots would never be able to take this off the ground.”

    The Canadian Harvard, which first debuted in 1941 for combat operations, is held in a high regard among pilots. “If you master flying the Harvard, you can fly anything,” Beckham and his team joked before takeoff.

    Beckham, who flies full time for Air Canada, says that the air show is his ‘fun break,’ flying alongside the four-man fleet for around 10 years. He loves it especially because of the novelty and history behind the Harvard.

    “There are no computers on this plane, just your hands, feet and your eyeballs,” he continued. “It’s incredible.”

    From liftoff to touchdown, the pilots seamlessly synchronized the four planes in the air, following the lead pilot’s orders over the radio. The aircraft swooped over and under one another, all while maintaining a concerningly close distance, almost wing-to-wing. I was able to clearly see the pilot and passengers in the other three planes — one of them even took photos of me from their seat.

    “It just looked absolutely beautiful, three four feet away from each other, it’s incredible,” Garry Wilks, an aviation enthusiast who flew in one of the Harvard planes said. “Formation flying is amazing. It gives you a whole new appreciation for the skill of flying.”

    Wilks also hopes the younger generation will become more interested in keeping the air show tradition alive.

    “The history is very important to maintain, it is by which everything our society has grown from. That’s why the air show, these planes are incredible.”

    As a millennial, once sour to the thought of coming anywhere near The Ex or the ‘annoying’ air show, flying in a piece of Canadian history took my head out of the clouds.

    The Canadian International Air Show will be running over Labour Day weekend at The Ex from Saturday to Monday.

    0 0

    SALT LAKE CITY—A Utah nurse said she was scared to death when a police officer handcuffed and dragged her screaming from a hospital after she refused to allow blood to be drawn from an unconscious patient.

    After Alex Wubbels and her attorneys released dramatic video of the arrest, prosecutors called for a criminal investigation and Salt Lake City police put Detective Jeff Payne on paid leave Friday.

    “This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme,” Wubbels said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And nobody stood in his way.”

    The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor also apologized and changed department policies in line with the guidance Wubbels was following in the July 26 incident.

    Wubbels, a former alpine skier who competed in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, said she adhered to her training and hospital protocols to protect the rights of a patient who could not speak for himself.

    “You can’t just take blood if you don’t have a legitimate concern for something to be tested,” Wubbels said. “It is the most personal property I think that we can have besides our skin and bones and organs.”

    Payne didn’t return messages left at publicly listed phone numbers, and the Salt Lake Police Association union did not respond to messages for comment. The department and a civilian board also are conducting reviews.

    “I was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer,” Police Chief Mike Brown said.

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    Police body-camera video shows Wubbels, who works in the burn unit, calmly explaining that she could not take blood from a patient who had been injured in a deadly car accident, citing a recent change in law. A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said a blood sample cannot be taken without patient consent or a warrant.

    Wubbels told Payne that a patient had to allow a blood sample to determine intoxication or be under arrest. Otherwise, she said police needed a warrant. Police did not, but Payne insisted.

    The dispute ended with Payne saying, “We’re done, you’re under arrest” and pulling her outside while she screamed and said, “I’ve done nothing wrong!”

    He had called his supervisor and discussed the time-sensitive blood draw for over an hour with hospital staff, police spokeswoman Christina Judd said.

    “It’s not an excuse. It definitely doesn’t forgive what happened,” she said.

    Payne wrote in a police report that he grabbed Wubbels and took her outside to avoid causing a “scene” in the emergency room. He said his boss, a lieutenant whose actions also were being reviewed, told him to arrest Wubbels if she kept interfering.

    The detective left Wubbels in a hot police car for 20 minutes before realizing that blood had already been drawn as part of treatment, said her lawyer, Karra Porter. Wubbels was not charged.

    “This has upended her worldview in a way. She just couldn’t believe this could happen,” Porter said.

    Wubbels and her attorneys on Thursday released the video they obtained through a public records request to call for change. She has not sued, but that could change, said attorney Jake Macfarlane.

    Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said that the video was concerning and called the police chief to ask for a criminal investigation.

    The department is open to the inquiry that will be run by Salt Lake County’s Unified Police, Judd said. Gill’s office will review the findings.

    In response to the incident, Judd said the department updated its blood-draw policy last week to mirror what the hospital uses. She said officers have already received additional training.

    The agency has met with hospital administration to ensure it does not happen again and to repair ties.

    “There’s a strong bond between fire, police and nurses because they all work together to help save lives, and this caused an unfortunate rift that we are hoping to repair immediately,” Judd said.

    The hospital said it’s proud of the way Wubbels handled the situation.

    The patient was a victim in a car crash and Payne wanted the blood sample to show he had done nothing wrong, according to the officer’s written report.

    The patient, William Gray, is a reserve police officer in Rigby, Idaho, according to the city’s police. They thanked Wubbels for protecting his rights.

    Grey is a semi-truck driver and was on the road when a pickup truck fleeing from authorities slammed into him and his truck burst into flames, police reports say.

    0 0

    Doug Ford will announce next Friday that he plans to challenge Mayor John Tory in the 2018 Toronto election, sources say.

    Ford has quietly been building a team in his bid for a rematch against Tory, who beat him in the 2014 municipal vote.

    Joe Reis, one of the federal Conservative Party’s top campaign organizers, has been phoning around to elicit support for the former city councillor.

    “Right now, I’m just shaking the trees and seeing if the people that I worked with before will come out for him like they did for his brother (former mayor Rob Ford, who died last year),” he said Friday.

    Reis, who is also well-respected in provincial Progressive Conservative circles, said Torontonians are wary of a bloated civic bureaucracy that fails to deliver on key services.

    “We go back to what his brother used to say: be there for the taxpayer. Drain the swamp . . . although I think that was another bushy-haired guy,” he said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been likened to Rob Ford.

    “It’s the same principle, right? Stop the gravy train. I think they’re getting back on the gravy train.”

    Even though the current mayor was leader of the Progressive Conservatives from 2004 until 2009, “the only thing Tory about that man is his name,” Reis joked.

    “I don’t think he’s conservative enough. We need someone who will really pull the purse strings back together and make sure the city understands why they’re there,” he said.

    Asked what the response has been to Ford’s nascent campaign, Reis said: “very good, it’s been excellent. I’ve only had pushback from one person, who will remain nameless, because he has a vested interest in seeing that John Tory is returned.”

    “I understand his personal vested interest . . . and I respect it, but I think, on the whole, people have been supportive. It will be a good run. I think Doug will have a good team,” he said, adding hastily “if he decides to enter.”

    Ford, who had been toying with running for Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives in the June 7, 2018 provincial election, told the Star to “wait until Friday,” when he will announce his plan at the family Ford Fest barbecue in Etobicoke.

    Tory’s campaign would welcome a reprise of the 2014 election, which was a referendum on Rob Ford’s tenure when Toronto was ridiculed around the world for the ex-mayor’s exploits, which included smoking crack.

    “People vividly remember the chaos and dysfunction of the Ford years, and they don’t want to go back,” said one source on the Tory re-election effort, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal strategy.

    “Also, Toronto voters find Trump-style politics repugnant and will not be inclined to look favourably on a candidate who embodies them and has publicly expressed his admiration for the guy,” said the insider, referring to Ford’s praise of Trump.

    Amanda Galbraith, Tory’s former director of communications and his campaign spokeswoman in 2014 before she became a principal at Navigator Ltd., also made the comparison with the mercurial American president.

    “Doug is basically Donald Trump Light. If he wants a rematch, I think voters will take one look at him and say, ‘No, thanks. We’ve seen this movie. We’ve got the T-shirt. We’ve moved on,’ ” she wrote in email.

    Galbraith added that a reboot of 2014 would be “an election and narrative the mayor has fought and won before.”

    “From a political perspective, Doug will drive voters from (the) left to the mayor. It’s a narrative that works for him. If I were Doug, I’d stick to making stickers,” she added, referring to Ford’s decals-and-tags business.

    Ford said Friday he knows Tory’s “little game will be to try to compare me to Donald Trump,” but rejects any parallels.

    Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals want him to run for the provincial Tories, because they believe the Trump comparisons will hurt Brown.

    “I used to take it as a real insult when they compared Rob to Donald Trump; Rob Ford was Rob Ford, and the Fords are the Fords, and we’re going to do what we’ve always done for 25 years for the taxpayers,” said Ford.

    The next municipal election will be held Oct. 22, 2018, four years after the last election, in which Tory received 394,775 votes compared to 330,610 for Ford, who only entered the race after Rob Ford dropped out for health reasons, late in the campaign.

    There have been changes to election rules. The campaign period is now shorter. It used to be that nominations could be filed on Jan. 1. Next year, nominations can be made May 1.

    Campaign finance rules have changed, too; the maximum contribution a candidate can make to his or her campaign is now $25,000.

    Previously, there was no limit on what a candidate could spend as long as it did not exceed the overall spending limit, which was $1.36 million in 2014.

    That year, Doug Ford spent $558,724 of his own money to run for mayor, after his brother Rob’s cancer diagnosis forced Rob to drop out in September. Doug Ford raised $356,167 in donations.

    Tory, who didn’t spend any of his own money, received $2.8 million from more than 5,000 donors.

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    A United Nations committee has urged Ottawa to limit the use of immigration detention and drop a bilateral pact that turns asylum-seekers back at the U.S. land border.

    The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination makes the recommendations in its recent review of how Canada’s government policies and programs are affecting minority groups.

    “The Committee recommends . . . immigration detention is only undertaken as a last resort after fully considering alternative non-custodial measures. Establish a legal time limit on the detention of migrants,” said the report released in Geneva this week.

    Read more:

    Immigration detainees can be jailed indefinitely, federal judge rules

    Immigration board refuses to release four-year detainee Ebrahim Toure

    Caged by Canada

    Canada should also “rescind or at least suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States of America to ensure that all individuals who attempt to enter the State party through a land border are provided with equal access to asylum proceedings,” the report said.

    Ottawa has been under intense criticism for its handling of migrants in detention and the surge of asylum seekers attempting to cross into Canada at unmarked points along the U.S. border.

    A Star investigation, Caged by Canada, this year into immigration detention in Canada found a system that indefinitely warehouses non-citizens away from public scrutiny in high-security criminal detention facilities.

    Some of the detainees are former permanent residents who were convicted for crimes and await deportation. Others are failed refugees waiting for removal or people deemed inadmissible to Canada, flight risks or dangers to the public. More than 100 of the detainees had spent at least three months in jail, and one-third of them have been held for more than a year.

    “We raised the issue of indefinite detention of non-status immigrants and their children, and the committee has listened,” said Shalini Konanur, director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

    The Safe Third Country agreement, introduced in 2004, prevents refugees from making asylum claims in both the U.S. and Canada, which clogs the system. Claimants are barred from entering the other country for asylum unless they belong to one of four exemption groups.

    However, the ban does not apply to those who sneak through unmarked points along the border, pushing some asylum-seekers to trek through no man’s land, mostly commonly in Quebec, B.C. and in Manitoba, where hundreds walked in the dead of winter this year, sometimes overnight, to Emerson.

    “Given the current xenophobic political climate in the U.S.A., it is no surprise that the committee has called on Canada to rescind or at least temporarily suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. Canada cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening down south,” said Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

    A Harvard University Law School review in February also warned about the negative effect of President Donald Trump’s administration on refugees and urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to consider pulling out from the bilateral deal.

    Hursh Jaswal, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, said Canada has a robust asylum system and the Safe Third Country Agreement is an important tool for the orderly handling of refugee claims on both sides of the border.

    “While the executive order affected the U.S. system for resettling refugees from abroad, it did not impact the U.S. system for handling domestic asylum claims,” Jaswal said. “Our government is monitoring the situation closely and will carefully evaluate any new developments for potential changes to the domestic asylum system in the U.S.”

    On immigration detention, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government is committed to improving the system.

    “We need to minimize the use of provincial jails and try to avoid, as much as humanly possible, the holding of children in detention,” said Scott Bardsley, adding that Ottawa is investing $138 million to expand alternatives to detention, improving detention conditions, providing better mental health services and reducing reliance on provincial jails for immigration holding.

    “Under the new government, the number of immigration detentions has decreased, despite an increase in visitors to Canada,” Bardsley said.

    The UN committee also raised alarm over the treatment of migrant workers in Canada.

    “Although the temporary foreign worker program conducts inspections, temporary migrant workers are reportedly susceptible to exploitation and abuses, and are sometimes denied basic health services, and employment and pension benefits to which they may make contributions,” it warned.

    The report called on Ottawa to collect race-based economic and social data to improve monitoring and evaluation of its programs that aim at eliminating racial discrimination and disparities.

    On a positive note, the committee praised Ontario for establishing the anti-racism directorate; Quebec, for passing a bill on combating hate speech and incitement to violence; and Ottawa for its condemnation of Islamophobia, as well as progress made in addressing discrimination against Indigenous peoples, resettling 46,000 Syrian refugees and restoring health care funding for refugees.

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    The eastbound express lanes on Hwy. 401 are closed from Hurontario St. after a collision involving a tractor trailer.

    Ontario Provinical Police say a tractor trailer believed to be carrying wooden skids collided with the guardrail just before 3:30 a.m., and prompted the need for a cleanup across all lanes. No injuries were reported, and the collector lanes were able to open again two hours later.

    The express lanes remain closed as the cleanup continues.

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